Only days after President Trump and Chinese leaders announced a tentative deal over TikTok, things are becoming muddled.
On Saturday, Trump told reporters he had given his “blessing” to a deal that would result in US-based companies Oracle and Walmart becoming partial owners of the video-sharing app.
But by Sunday, ByteDance, TikTok’s Beijing-based parent company, had already disparaged Trump’s characterization of the proposal. ByteDance clarified that it would hold a majority stake in TikTok Global, the new company that would result from the entrance of Oracle and Walmart. Additionally, the Chinese entity insisted that it would keep the majority stake until TikTok goes public next year. By contrast, Oracle said Monday that ByteDance would lose it ownership stake in the platform as soon as TikTok Global forms.
The disconnect between participating parties only heightened on Monday. Appearing on Fox & Friends, the President was asked about the fact that ByteDance would maintain an 80% stake in the service. In response, he said that the Chinese company would “have nothing to do with it. And if they do, we just won’t make the deal.” Moreover, he said that Oracle would have control over TikTok, adding, “If we find that they don’t have total control, then we’re not going to approve the deal.” The statement came only days after he had expressed his “blessing” for the mixed ownership arrangement.
Anything But Certain
All of this just underscores how malleable the agreement still is, and the lingering possibility that TikTok could still miss the administration’s national security standards. On Saturday, the Commerce Department had announced a one-week delay of a plan to ban downloads of TikTok in the United States, pushing the new deadline to September 27. But if the agreement does not satisfy Trump’s concerns by then, the existence of the app in the US could once again become endangered.